At the end of the '90s the now defunct Renaissance label edited a wonderful series of CD's entitled 'Heard It On The Radio'.
These series included lost '80s AOR / Melodic Rock songs that once ruled the airwaves, not only well known artists, also rather obscure bands only known by collectors, but truly marvelous.
In those years, it wasn't easy to find that music available on digital format (mostly never released on CD) in such good audio quality.
Now, an indie label is taking the flag, publishing new volumes and expanding the series. Some of these tracks are from albums finally released digitally nowadays, but many not, and probably that never happens.
So we have here a cool collection of '80s tunes from an era when melody was the essential motto in music.
A collector's item for any Classic AOR / Melodic Rock fan.
01 - Gary 'O - All The Young Heroes
02 - The Neighborhoods - Prettiest Girl
03 - What Is This - Ill Be Around
04 - Donnie Iris & The Cruisers - Do You Compute
05 - Glass Moon - On A Carousel
06 - Ian Lloyd - Lonely Nights
07 - Gary 'O - Pay You Back With Interest
08 - Max Carl - The Circle
09 - Walter Egan - Fool Moon Fire
10 - Fanny - I've Had It
11 - Jim Capaldi - Living On The Edge
12 - 707 - I Could Be Good For You
13 - Mylon LeFevre & Alvin Lee - So Sad (No Love In His Own)
14 - Greg Lake - Manoeuvres
15 - Ian Lloyd - Stop! In The Name Of Love
16 - Scott Wilk And The Walls - Suspicion
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Friday, August 31, 2012
New Jersey rocker JOHN TAGLIERI is no stranger to the music business. With years of continuous touring and seven solo albums under his belt music has been his life.
Taglieri's early works are pretty good working class rock & AOR albums, and although he is one of the hardest working musicians he is quite unknown and deserves more success.
Now, the prolific singer, songwriter, producer makes a strong return with “Lucky #9”.
For those of you familiar with Taglieri’s music, "Lucky #9" is undoubtedly going to please you. For those of you who aren’t yet acquainted, Taglieri's music is a modern Bon Jovi with some Adult Contemporary in it - a good time rock and roller who is one part bar band and another part arena rocker.
First single and opening track "Losing Me" mixes acoustic verses and an energetic, catchy chorus. "I Never Knew" is more midtempo and modern rock oriented, while "Dying Alive" is a Bon Jovi-like semi acoustic piece.
There's two radio-friendly ballads; "Without You" and "Not Gonna Be My Life", the first with a rock pulse, the latter acoustically arranged. "Make Me Believe" is also not be overlooked – a sincere and peppy love song.
Determined to continue his career as independent artist, John Taglieri has recorded "Lucky #9" in his own studio assisted by Nashville's producer Lee J. Turner.
This is a good musician, a 'songwriter-performer' delivering honest and real songs, filled with lyrics speaking about everyday themes most people can connect with easily.
John and his band has an excellent chemistry providing moments for each individual to shine while teaming up for effective ear pleasing harmonies.
1 - Losing Me
2 - I Never Knew
3 - Without You
4 - Dying Alive
5 - Make Me Believe
6 - Not Gonna Be My Life
John Taglieri - Vocals, Guitar
Brad Whitley - Guitar
Tom Darby - KeyboardsDave Willard - Bass
Rob Jackson - Drums
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Thursday, August 30, 2012
BEVERLY KILLZ was formed in Milano, Italy, in April 2007 from the ashes of two local bands; Jasmine Gun and Mr. Jackfrost.
They debuted three years ago with an EP produced by the well known Alessandro Del Vecchio, and now it's time for Beverly Killz full length debut "Gasoline & Broken Hearts".
Despite the band's name, Beverly Killz does not play sleaze, these Italian guys show in "Gasoline & Broken Hearts" their love for late '80s / earlier '90s American Hard Rock with a touch of Hair Metal.
So, what really showcases the band's style is the album title. Musically, this is melodious guitar driven hard rock, plenty of backing vocals in the earlier Skid Row 'gang' way.
There's many inflences in their sound such as Mariah, Julliet, Skid Row, some Guns and regarding new acts, Jettblack or the last and more rockier Crazy Lixx.
Opener "Never Back Bown" is where the band reminds me the Lixx's in the sound and style of their last album, with a strong riff and lots of backing vocals.
Follower "Away From Danger" is one of the most commercial tunes on the CD, a melodic rock track with clean electric guitars and pumping bass lines. The song structure recalls Tyketto and Mariah. A really good song.
There's other good melodic tunes as "Riding Alone" (Johnny Lima-like) and "Power Of Your Sex", but also harder rockers in "Baby You're On Target", "Livin' And Dyin" and "For Love", delivering fiercer choruses.
Perhaps my pick of the album is "Sin City", a really punchy and effective sweaty rocker with solid riffage, cowbells and Skid Row-like backing vocals.
For the end Beverly Killz surprises us with a cover of the '90s dance hit "What Is Love" turned hard rock. It's cool and nicely done.
As said, don't be fooled by the band's name (that 'z' is a mistake if you ask me), "Gasoline & Broken Hearts" is an Americanized hard rock album with many melodic rock moments.
Songwriting is a bit cheesy sometimes but the music is very well played and arranged and all are solid musicians. It helps a lot Del Vecchio's assistance and the excellent mix by the renowned Dennis Ward (House of Lords) behind the desk.
I really like the vibrant guitar sound and specially the rhythm section, with perfectly recorded drums. Vincent DiStefano sings in the best Sunset Strip way, rightly articulated for this genre.
01 - Never Back Bown
02 - Away From Danger
03 - Baby You're On Target
04 - Dark Lady
05 - Livin' And Dyin'
06 - Riding Alone
07 - For Love
08 - Power Of Your Sex
09 - Sin City
10 - In Sorrow
11 - What Is Love
Vince - vocals
Mak - lead guitar
John - rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Andre - bass, backing vocals
Fabio - drums, backing vocals
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The original, '80s pre-record deal lineup of Lillian Axe, featuring Steve Blaze (guitar), Danny King (drums), Johnny Vines (vocals) and Michael Maxx (bass) have come together to release a CD aptly entitled "Rebirth" as the band CIRCLE OF LIGHT.
Circle Of Light features the original members of Lillian Axe and their album consists of 11 tracks from the band's early days prior to getting signed by MCA Records, a deal that was conditional on leader Steve Blaze replacing several members which would become the lineup of Lillian Axe's first released albums.
Steve Blaze said; "As cliche as it may sound, it is now the time to experience the past in the present tense. Original classic songs that have never been officially released until now.
Remember those early songs we used to play live at the beginning and never recorded? Well they sound just as good if not better today".
"Rebirth" includes truly '80s rooted hard rockers and melodious songs originally written for Lillian Axe's debut that never made any of their albums. Old-school scorchers that really stood the test of time.
We find pride mid-eighties American Hard Rock songs (some of them quite heavy) as "Sail Into The Heavens", "Modern Day Vampire", the groovy "Circus Comes To Town" and the short but impactful "Every Dog Has Its Day" featuring a killer guitar solo.
Seems in these years Blaze's songwriting was pretty influenced by Dokken, as heard on "Rest In Peace", "Circle Of Light" and the riff-laden "Try To Stop Me Now" where a I hear the more commercial Impelliteri as well.
And of course we have typical early Lillian Axe songs (as in their debut) featuring high doses of melody such as the very good midtempo title track "Rebirth", the strong melodic hard rockers "On A Clear Night" & "King Of The Beasts", and the consistent ballad "Silent Night".
Taken by Steve Blaze as a Lillian Axe side project, Circle Of Light, in my opinion, sounds much more vital and honest than the last Lillian's album released months ago.
"Rebirth" recaptures for the most part the true early Lillian Axe sound & style, particularly in the songwriting and the way the songs are performed, something that real fans of the band and general '80s hard rock lovers miss from them.
Circle Of Light rocks tight and hot, not sounding metalized at all, just like pure eighties American Hard Rock used to be: sharp and melodic.
You've seen it first here, at 0dayrockz
01 - Circle Of Light
02 - Circus Comes To Town
03 - Sail Into The Heavens
04 - Modern Day Vampire
05 - Rebirth
06 - Rest In Peace
07 - Silent Night
08 - Every Dog Has Its Day
09 - On A Clear Night
10 - Try To Stop Me Now
11 - King Of The Beasts
Johnny Vines (vocals)
Steve Blaze (guitar)
Michael Maxx (bass)
Danny King (drums)
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WORLD FIRE BRIGADE is a new modern hard rock supergroup featuring Fuel's Brett Scallions, Smile Empty Soul's Sean Danielsen and producer Eddie Wohl.
The seeds for this project were planted during the 2003 tour that had Smile Empty Soul supporting Fuel, and germinated now with their debut "Spreading My Wings"
The first thing I want to make clear, this is not a Fuel or a Smile Empty Soul record, it's much better than these pretty insipid bands.
It's a World Fire Brigade record and their music is inspired by more traditional hard rock sounds, modern for sure and with a spice of alternative, but on the good side. Obviously, it's going to have tinges of feeling like a Fuel record, Brett Scallions only has one voice, however that only happens in some vocal parts.
Brett is taking more chances here than in his own band and Sean has written some really heavy riffs on this album.
After an intro, first up is the title track "Spreading My Wings". This song is a good representation of what the band offers; it's heavy, it's modern melodic, it's good. The tones in the breakdown are hot & dirty, where the guitars take a front role.
Follower "All You Know" has a really raunchy riff lying underneath a very singable verse and chorus that somehow reminds me Rubber (Harem Scarem modern side).
"Weight Of The World" is up next, a commercial modern yet razor track with radio intentions. There are still some heavy elements involved, with good lyrics and vocal parts.
"Don't Walk Away" and "Take Me Away" are songs that really separates this record from each members previous bands. The latter features Rob Caggiano from Anthrax, so going in, you know it's gonna be heavy. This song is the most adventurous on the album for Brett vocally. Pushing his voice to a near growl in spots, the melody is there, but in passing you may not recognize his voice.
On the other hand, "Shot Down" and "All My Demands" are the less interesting tracks here, as have some of the alternative feel that early Smile Empty Soul songs used to offer.
"Free and Sane" is an OK slow track (not a ballad) that sounds more like a Fuel song, but more organic and with a blistering guitar solo closer to the end.
"Spreading My Wings" is a good rocking album by this new band that although has members from mainstream acts, has its own identity.
World Fire Brigade's music is more meaty and consistent than the majority of the modern rock bands. It's modern and a bit alternative yes, but gritty and powerful as well.
If you are tired of listening classic hard rock but modern bands bored you to death, "Spreading My Wings" is a good disc that floats in between with good results.
01 - The End Of Silence
02 - Spreading My Wings
03 - All You Know
04 - Weight of the World
05 - Shell of Me
06 - Fly
07 - Don't Walk Away
08 - Take Me Away (feat. Rob Caggiano)
09 - Shot Down
10 - All My Demands
11 - The Beginning of Madness
12 - Never Saw the Wall (feat. Rob Caggiano) [Explicit]
13 - Free and Sane
14 - One
Sean Danielsen - Guitars, Vocals
Brett Scallions - Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Eddie Wohl - Keyboards, Programming
Ken Schalk - Drums
Dustin Schoenhofer - Drums
Rob Caggiano (Anthrax) - Guitar
Andy Andersson (Fuel) - Guitar
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012
NASTY IDOLS are rightfully considered by many as the godfathers of Swedish hard rockin' glam & sleaze.
When the band exploded onto the scene in 1989 there were only a handful of countrymen sailing the same musical waters including Shotgun Messiah and Glorious Bankrobbers, and when they decided to call it a day in 1995 the scene had almost completely vanished.
Unlike some outfits that started out as eyeliner and hairspray junkies but made a 360 degree turn when glam and sleaze went out of fashion, Andy Pierce and his bandmates have always stayed true to their sound although they did beef it up a bit along the way.
Their 2002 quite heavy album re-ignited interest in the band which eventually led to an actual reunion gig at Sweden Rock in 2006.
Many fans of the genre were more than happy to see the guys rockin' once again and hope grew for a new record to see the light of day. The prayers were answered with the release of 'Boys Town' in 2009 that saw Nasty Idols pick up where they had left of with 'Vicious' in 1993.
And now the guys present their latest 11 song collection entitled “Kalifornia” that falls in somewhere between 1991's 'Cruel Intention' (the benchmark for Nasty Idols as far as I'm concerned) and the already mentioned 'Vicious' opus while there are also touches from Machinegun Kelly, the outfit formed by Pierce after the demise of the Idols.
Nucleus of the Swedish outfit since day one are said Mr Pierce and bass player Dick Qwarfort. Andy Pierce isn't just the voice of the band but also the face and main songwriter having a hand in each of the tracks included.
The album starts off great with vitriolic opener "No Rules" that pretty much sets the tone for most of the album with its chugging riff and Andy spitting out the vocals like a rabid dog.
Up next is the ominous sounding title track that threw my right back to Machinegun Kelly's 1995 opus 'White Line Offside', followed by the melodious "1969 (This Ain't The Summer Of Love)" where guitarist Peter Espinoza delivers some fine axe work throughout the tune and the use of a Hammond organ gives it a vintage touch.
The headbangin' "Night By Night" is classic Nasty Idols and the same can be said of the album's finest cut "Sister Sin". In fact both could have come straight of their early albums. Two slices of high-end Swedish sleazy hard rock with the latter being extremely intoxicating.
Other cuts worthy of some extra attention are the cowbell infested, tailor made for party "Sweet Suicide" and the ballsy, fast-paced "Jack In The Box".
Bringing the disc to close are the subtle sounds of "Since U Been Gone", a power ballad with a 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' feeling.
"Kalifornia" is a very good hard rock record that rocks from the start to finish, delivering eleven songs in the pure Nasty Idols sleaze tradition.
It is mostly oriented to the early nineties sounds, which means that it is full of pissed off and fast tracks with a couple of slower tunes including a great ballad. It's that kind of 'kick ass' record which hooks you at first listen.
Nasty Idols may not be the youngest band on the current Swedish scene but with "Kalifornia" they proof that there's still plenty of life in the old dogs yet.
1. No More Rules
3. 1969 (This Ain't The Summer Of Love)
4. Night By Night
6. Sister Sin
7. Pleasure Of The Pain
9. Sweet Suicide
10. Jack In The Box
11. Since U Been Gone
Andy Pierce - Vocals
Peter Espinoza - Guitars
Dick Qwarfort - Bass
Rikki Dahl - Drums
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Monday, August 27, 2012
Veteran Australian band THE ANGELS lost in 2010 their long-time frontman Doc Neeson who had set off to pursue a solo career. Along with bassist Chris Bailey, founder members Rick and John Brewster decided to continue and find a new singer.
They'd been itching to record a new The Angels album for years, they had songs and they had the hunger, and in April 2011 Dave Gleeson was chosen as new vocalist for "Take It To The Streets", their CD first in a dozen years.
Gleeson, who had spent two decades fronting The Screaming Jets, found proud himself walking into Sydney's legendary Alberts Studios to record new songs with The Angels, a band that had soundtracked his teenage years and inspired him to take up rock n roll as a career. Gleeson vocals glue with the band's style, as his slightly raspy tone has the typical classic rock nuances.
Produced by the Brewsters, the new Angels album includes new versions of the group's classics "Small Price" and "When the Time Comes" with the new line-up, which includes seasoned drummer Nick Norton. Both songs were nicely reworked with an updated sound.
The album has a Classic Rock vibe all over, with the best moments found in the rumbling grooves of "Some Kind of Hell in Here" and "Life Gets Better", the gentle title track "To The Streets" (complete with vintage organs), and the melodic, atmosphere-soaked ballads "There Comes A Time" and the bluesy "Telephone".
There's a good cover of Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up", a more rocking approach on the single "Waiting For The Sun" featuring punchy guitars panned on both channels, and a the cool riff-based "No Sleep In Hell", full of swagger.
Few in the Classic Rock scene were expecting a new The Angels album, but the band has returned with a fresh line-up and a pack of good new songs.
As Rick Brewster says; 'We didn't have to deliver for anybody but ourselves. We all wanted to be there, we all wanted to play, we all wanted to make a new Angels album. And that’s what we did'.
"Take It To The Streets" offers honest Classic Rock sounds, played and recorded in the old-fashioned way with a jangling, bracing burst of electric and acoustic guitars, melodic organs and an organic rhythm section.
01 - To The Streets
02 - Wounded Healer
03 - Waiting For The Sun
04 - Life Gets Better
05 - Telephone
06 - No Sleep In Hell
07 - The More You Give
08 - When The Time Comes
09 - Pump It Up
10 - There Comes A Time
11 - Small Price
12 - Gettin' Free
13 - Some Kinda Hell In Here
14 - Free Bird
Dave Gleeson - Vocals
Rick Brewster - Guitars, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Percussion
John Brewster - Guitars
Chris Bailey - Bass, Backing Vocals
Nick Norton - Drums & Percussion
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Pasadena US rockers GYPSYHAWK are a classic hard rock four piece band finding
their inspiration in the sounds of the late seventies. Their music revisits and distils all the best flavours into their own inventive brew of rock music.
"Revelry & Resilience" is the band's 2nd effort, a solid and convincing slice of retro hard very well done.
The band began in 2008 when bassist and vocalist Eric Harris (ex-Skeletonwitch, Sorcerer) linked up with guitarist Andrew Packer (Suns Beneath). With a full line-up the band gigged hard sharing their rock n roll sounds, music which was distinct from what their previous bands had made.
2010 saw the release of their debut CD, but also later a change of members when guitarist Erik Kluiber (ex-White Wizzard and currently Overloaded) and drummer Ian Brown joined. This was too arguably the moment the band truly discovered their sound and became what Harris and Packer had envisaged.
Unconcerned with trends, Gypsyhawk sound like they've just dropped in from 1977, but armed not only with some glorious half-inched Thin Lizzy riffs, the have an updated approach on some aspects such as a modern drum sound which makes them different from the crowd playing this style.
It’s a new dawn and it’s a new day and the new bands are playing the old stuff, because none of them were alive when it was new. "Revelry & Resilience" is a stunning blend of fantasy and science fiction-inspired lyrics set against a backdrop of booty-shaking heavy rock.
"Overloaded" opens the gate to the energy and fun of the album, a track which instantly pulls one into a mesh of feisty riffs and strong rhythms. A track with late seventies Judas Priest meets Aerosmith confectionary perfection.
The strong start is immediately improved upon by the contagious strides of "The Fields". The song unleashes a teasing hook from the start to infect the senses before its mischievous groove runs amok. They remind me Riot on the melodious riffage.
The twin-ax attack of Erik Kuibler and Andrew Packer is quite potent on "Galaxy Rise," with some lead guitar work that feels a bit reminiscent of Ace Frehley. Riff-wise, the duo — with Harris rumbling underneath — are especially good in "Hedgeking" too.
"Night Songs From The Desert" slows things down a bit, with a beautiful intro featuring a high electric guitar soloing mournfully over the album's quietest instrumentation. It's a bit of a shame that the band only saw fit to include one slower track. Then again, the energy level is one of the charms here.
Harris isn't the world's most dynamic vocalist, but he gets the job done here. When he's called on to stretch out a bit — on "Silver Queen," especially — he pulls it off, but he's largely content to explore a range that lets him sound like a new century Phil Lynott.
One of the most interesting song in the album is "State Lines". With all the classic this and all the traditional that, this is Gypsyhawk taking the format and making it their own, from the bass intro and the frenetic pace to the excellent guitar trade-offs and slaterock-solid drumming.
The disc wraps up with a cover of Rick Derringer’s timeless "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" that is ok, but looks unnecessary here.
"Revelry & Resilience" is a more than good retro hard rock album with songs which excite and please thoroughly.
They have a familiarity to them like old friends but with the resourceful thought and fresh energies Gypsyhawk infuses them with, makes for something all rock fans should get a big buzz from.
"Revelry & Resilience" while still honoring the sounds of the 1970s, adds a new contemporary touch to this classic style.
Fans of bands like UFO, Thin Lizzy, early Riot and Classic Rock in general, you're going to crank this one up with pride.
01 - Overloaded
02 - The Fields
03 - Hedgeking
04 - Frostwyrm
05 - Galaxy Rise
06 - 1345
07 - Night Songs from the Desert
08 - The Red Wedding
09 - Silver Queen
10 - State Lines
11 - Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo
Andrew Packer - Guitars
Eric Harris - Bass, Vocals
Ian "Pee Pee Rider" Brown - Drums
Erik "Ron Houser" Kluiber - Guitars
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Sunday, August 26, 2012
Norwegians SHA-BOOM become a sensation in Scandinavia at the end of the eighties / earlier nineties with their mixture of poppy radio-rock and commercial AOR. They returned in 2005 with only original member Dag Finn at the helm (even though ex- bassist Peo Thyren has helped out with some lyrics) and Tommy Denander as partner in crime.
The result was "The Race Is On" which now is being re-released worldwide slightly remixed.
Dag Finn assembled a cast of excellent players for this album who need no introduction to those who follow the Swedish scene (check the awesome personnel below). No doubt Tommy Denander's contacts enabled this new effort to have a record label behind it.
"The Race Is On" is million times harder than the band's earlier albums, combining catchy melodic rock sounds with rockin' Scandi AOR.
Dag's vocals are a cross between Stage Dolls' Torstein Flakne and Bonfire's Claus Lessman with a raspy touch, while the musicianship doesn't need to be questioned, as all are well known quality musicians and play at their game here.
The overal sound and style in "The Race Is On" reminds you Euro Melodic Rock acts such as Casanova, Return, Evenrude, and more recently; Rydell & Quick.
The harder and rockier approach in this new encarnation of Sha-Boom are clear in opener "Blah Blah Blah" and the killer uptempo 'Into The Fire'.
There are some truly osum melodic rock tunes as "Why Did I..?" (terrific), "Somewhere In The Dark", the midtempo "22nd Of October" and the moving "This Is My Life", while "My Home Town" adds AOR to the melodic rock recipe.
Sha-Boom bring to the table some of their melodic poppy origins; "Message Of Love", the title track "The Race Is On" and "Big Bang" are just three tracks that scream out for radio play.
"The Race Is On" is full of catchy hooks and heavenly choruses, instant easy to listen tunes that leaves you with a big smile on the face.
This is pure Scandi Melodic Rock AOR with an updated sound (courtesy of Tommy Denander) and fun, feel-good lyrics and melodies.
If you slipped Sha-Boom's "The Race Is On" back in a day, don't miss it now.
The Scandies do it yet again.
01 - Blah, Blah, Blah
02 - Somewhere In The Dark
03 - My Hometown
04 - The Race Is On
05 - 22nd Of October
06 - Into The Fire
07 - Get The Party Started
08 - Message Of Love
09 - Here I Am
10 - Big Bang
11 - This Is My Life
12 - Why Did I..?
13 - Fortune And Fame
Dag Finn - Vocals
Tommy Denander - Guitars, Keyboards
Kee Marcello (Europe) - Guitar
Steiner Hagen (Sayit) - Guitar
Jonas Karlberg - Guitar
Bo Reimer (Tata Vega) - Guitar
Sayit Dolen (Sayit) - Guitar
John Leven (Europe) - Bass
Marcel Jacob (Talisman, Humanimal) - Bass
Joel Starander (Kharma, Heartbreak Radio) - Bass
EZ Gomer (Liberty N' Justice, Jet Circus) - Bass
Mic Michaeli (Europe) - Keyboards
Jorgen Ingestrom (Fingerprints) - Keyboards
Ulf Steneberg - Keyboards
Dan Helgesen (Phenomena, Salute) - Keyboards
Ian Haugland (Europe) - Drums
Christian Ekwall - Drums
Daniel Flores (Alfonzetti, Frozen Rain) - Drums
Anders Borjesson - Drums
Thomas Vikstrom (Talk of the Town) - Backing Vocals
Produced by Dag Finn & Tommy Denander
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Saturday, August 25, 2012
After his acclaimed 'Heartbreak' solo album, Paul Sabu wanted to create a band to stand out into the competitive Melodic Hard Rock American scene.
ONLY CHILD was formed in 1987, still with drummer Charles Esposito who played in his previous record, joined by Tommy Rude ond keyboards and Murrill Maglio on bass.
Paul Sabu has extended his dealings with his new British label for 3 classic reissues remastered from the original tapes with bonus tracks personally selected by Paul.
Only Child's debut is first.
The band's self titled debut become a true classic, regarded as Paul Sabu’s best ever work. "Only Child" is a fantastic slice of pure US Melodic Hard Rock / AOR driven by sharp guitars and big keyboard arrangements.
The entree of "Just Ask" is brilliant. Big sounding, lots of depth, fat keyboards, and a great chorus. "Always" is a smoother radio friendly piece, with an arrangement similar to Strangeways.
The pair of "I Wanna Touch" and "Love To The Limit" are great moments too. The former has a classic AOR song structure with a strong pre-chorus/bridge ultimately leading into a memorable chorus. The latter track is chuggin' hard rocker with strong keyboard layers. It's definitely a buoyant piece of music.
"I Believe In You" is perhaps one of the definitive AOR moments onboard, with a chorus like this it's no wonder: 'I believe in you, do you believe in me, hearts running with the night..'. Again, it features a hooky keyboard sequence just prior to the solo.
"Scream Until You Like It" was previously known recorded by WASP, and though this version is heavy, it's way too melodic and has a touch too much keyboard.
The original disc finish up with the anthemic "Shot Heard Around The World", delivering a heavy dose of AOR keyboards to die for.
"Only Child" debut is a must have in any serious Melodic Hard Rock / AOR-rock collection. Not in vain was listed in the prestigious Kerrang! Magazine in their top-40 list of AOR albums of all times, ended in the 22nd place.
This reissue sounds terrific, with the addition of some bonus tracks subsequently recorded for the second disc of the band, all matching the high quality standards of the main album.
Without a doubt an alltime classic, the definition of perfect '80s AOR Melodic Rock if you ask me.
01 - Just Ask
02 - Always
03 - I Wanna Touch
04 - I Remember The Night
05 - Love To The Limit
06 - I Believe In You
07 - Save A Place In Your Heart
08 - Rebel Eyes
09 - Scream Until You Like It
10 - Shot Heard Around The World
11 - Lucky In Love (Bonus Track)
12 - In My Blood (Bonus Track)
13 - A Word To The Wise (Bonus Track)
Paul Sabu - vocals, guitars
Tommy Rude - keyboards, backing vocals
Murrill Maglio - bass, backing vocals
Charles Esposito - drums, backing vocals
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Friday, August 24, 2012
After long five years, UK prog-metallers THRESHOLD are back with a brand-new studio album entitled "March Of Progress" with original singer Damian Wilson rejoining the band.
Threshold has always been a different beast in the Prog Metal scene, crafting their very own trademark style that is a far cry from the typical contemporary sound in the genre.
"March of Progress" is an all encompassing effort, blending the atmosphere and edge of the band's earlier albums - particularly the use of massive arrangements with the commercial gloss and almost Melodic Hard Rock accessibility.
This is a colossal album at over an hour in length plenty of different atmospheres, arrangements and thought provoking lyrics. A majestic, grandiose effort that pours out the speakers flooding and drenching the room thanks to a vibrant, crystalline mix.
Damian Wilson sounds the best he's ever sounded, age has done nothing but favours to him stepping from strength to strength over the years and it's about time he received unanimous praise. Not only does Wilson sound great, but as Threshold have grown as a band so has the way they write their vocal melodies.
This means Damian is singing some of the best vocal lines of his career coupled with the band's highly professional and massively enjoyable style of backing vocals (which I would say unique to the band).
Take a listen at the sublime opener "Ashes" or the majesty of "Colophon" for proof.
Musically, "March Of Progress" is an amalgamation of Threshold's discography with the band shifting dynamics right the way through the record. From atmospheric, quasi ethereal progressive backdrops, to some of the band's very heaviest riffage, with melodious passsages in between for a perfect balance.
Guitarist Karl Groom laid down some of the finest riffs he's ever wrote as well as some of his most awe-inspiring leads while Richard West proves his skill as a musician on every level, with excellent piano style pieces, flawless synth fills and some technically tasty leads.
The addition of former Power Quest axe-slinger Pete Morton on rhythm guitars really helps round out the guitar sound giving a good deal of crunch. The rhythm section of Johanne James and Steve Anderson is tighter the the bark on a tree, with Johanne's tasteful stick work demanding of your sole attention and Steve's bass having a perfect spot in the mix, always relevant and anchoring everything perfectly.
I have extensively described the musicianship here because if you never heard Threshold, you should notice they're brilliant in this department.
And what about the songs (writing). As on all Threshold albums, "March Of Progress" works best listened to in one go for the experience, and I will also say that just about every track is ultimately a standout.
Special attention has to go to "Don't Look Down" which is up there with the best songs the band have ever wrote and it could stand as the flagship-song for Threshold; superb vocals, stupendous musicianship that is heavy and never overtly indulgent, meaty melody and subtle dynamic shifts. In short; all what Threshold is all about.
Also particularly remarkable is the longest track here, "The Rubicon". The song has superb dynamics and breaks with a very dark vibe, especially when it busts into an absolutely punishing dirge towards the end.
If you care at all about Progressive Metal (and much more in-between), with "March Of Progress" prepare yourself for an incredibly stunning release.
I doubt anything is going to come out this year in the genre and match the quality displayed on this CD. It boasts depth in spades, it's intelligent, thought provoking and masterfully crafted in all aspects.
It is a long journey clocking over an hour but flowing easily if you want to, however, it's an album worthy of investing a good amount of time and concentration and I can assure you the more time you invest, the greater the bearing fruits become.
"March Of Progress" sees Threshold catapulted to the very top of their genre, and I hope the guys see a lot of success with this release as it is completely deserved.
Close to perfection.
01 - Ashes
02 - Return Of The Thought Police
03 - Staring At The Sun
04 - Liberty, Complacency, Dependency
05 - Colophon
06 - The Hours
07 - That's Why We Come
08 - Don't Look Down
09 - Coda
10 - The Rubicon
11 - Divinity (digi bonus track)
Damian Wilson - vocals
Karl Groom - guitar
Pete Morten - guitar
Steve Anderson - bass
Richard West - keyboards
Johanne James - drums
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Legend AEROSMITH will return on November 6th with their first album in eight years, 'Music From Another Dimension'.
The 14-track effort was preceded by the lead single 'Legendary Child', and now it's time for another cut from the album: "Lover Alot".
Thank heaven, Aerosmith aren’t trying to do anything but be themselves, they do a pretty damn good job; the old shoes still fit very well.
We’re not saying you could drop this song in the middle of ‘Rocks’ or ‘Toys in the Attic’ and not have anybody notice a difference, mind you.
But the songcraft, attitude and spirit of "Lover Alot" match up with the band's late eighties / early nineties golden era at least, as well — if not better — as you could reasonably hope.
As happened with 'Legendary Child', if "Lover Alot" is a representative sampling of what we can expect from the band's new album, Aerosmith fans are in for a very pleasant year.
Lover Alot (3:35)
Steven Tyler – lead vocals, keyboards, percussion
Joe Perry – guitar, backing vocals
Brad Whitford – guitar
Tom Hamilton – bass, backing vocals
Joey Kramer – drums, percussion
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The origins of the Madrid, Spain based band THE VAL can be found in the local act Ying-Yang which achieved considerable popularity during the nineties.
When one of their members sadly passed away the group decided broke-up. But after several years, in 2010, singer Gabrielle de Val, keyboardist David Erick Criado and guitarist Alfonso Samos got in touch with each other and from the very beginning they all knew that they wanted to go on with the project they had begun years before.
Renamed THE VAL, a bunch of songs sprung up very quickly and spontaneously, so they were able to begin recording their album “Back” immediately.
The Val's music has many influences, from Adult Contemporary and AOR to Classic Rock / Melodic Rock. Centered in their charismatic vocalist, these songs are plenty of delicate harmonies and finesse instrumentation.
Gabrielle is a German-born singer, but many years ago moved to Madrid, where she has developed his musical career. According to her, the lyrics were written in English because that's the language in which the songs were conceived.
The result is a powerful and inspiring recording, full of charm and beauty.
The style of this combo reminds you female fronted acts such as One & The Same, Heart, Ella Baila Sola, Nexx and Venus & Mars.
From the start with "A Kiss In A Dragon Night", The Val surprises us with an enchanting soft melody, the solid voice of Gabrielle and original instrumentation including convincing electric & acoustic guitars (not with the typical amp set-up) and elegant pianos & synths.
Since the beginning it is clear that The Val sounds like no one, there's no repeated formulas here.
Next, "Dreaming" indeed tele-transports you into dreamy and breezy classic melodies, where Gabrielle shows her immense vocal ability and diversity. A beautiful track.
But this band is profuse not only in smooth sounds, as the melodic rock infused "Pay (For The Lonely Nights)" and "Johnny's Got A Red Car" offer a great guitar / keyboard interplay and delicious choruses.
Then we have title track "Back", a perfectly crafted song with a bluesy and melancholic feel. The way all the instruments are orchestrated are really tasteful, again, sounding original and like no-other band.
The rest of the songs maintain the high level, as the melodius and light "When Midnight Comes", the moving "Every Beat Of My Heart" and the veltety "The Unwritten Songs", a tune that Ann Wilson would be proud of.
For the end, The Val gives us perhaps the best tune of the album (and they're all good) with "The Age Of The Sun", an AOR pumped song driven by a stupendous rhythm and a great vocal job all over bending herself.
The Val's "Back" is one of the best discs I heard this year.
It's original, mature, scintillating, from the songwriting to the personal intrumentation and arrangements.
Gabrielle ows one of 'that' unique voices which not impacts by the power, just by the class and the way she performs each melody, always different and intriguing. Her bandmates provide as well a musical background rich of varied harmonies and fills with sound settings far from the common.
As minor point production would have needed a little more brightness, but this is an indie release and this does not detract the value of this amazing album.
I think the expression that best reflects the music included in this CD is 'Good Taste'.
Don't miss it.
01 - A Kiss In A Dragon Night
02 - Dreaming
03 - Pay (For The Lonely Nights)
04 - Trapped Between The Lines
05 - Johnny's Got A Red Car
06 - Hold On
07 - Back
08 - When Midnight Comes
09 - The Devil's In The Band
10 - Every Beat Of My Heart
11 - The Unwritten Songs
12 - The Age Of The Sun
Gabrielle de Val - Vocals
Alfonso Samos - Guitars, Bass, Drums, Background vocals
David Erick Criado - Keyboards, Background vocals
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Thursday, August 23, 2012
Not the cappy version floating around
PLEASURE ADDICTION has been around for a while now in the growing French Melodic Rock scene, sharing stages with Europe, White Lion, LA Guns and Danger Danger's Ted Poley among others.
They went through several line-up changes over the years, enlisting now 'El Butcho' (Hellectrokuters) on vocals and the other guys all play in other bands as well: 'Carvin' is one of the guitarists in Aesthesia, 'Stuffy' plays bass in Voodoo Smile and Highlight Enemies among others, 'Pamy' is his bandmate in Voodoo Smile and 'Bady' plays in Sweet Silence.
"InDependence" is their indie debut, akin the Sunset Strip '80s sounds.
They mostly want to have fun with this band, playing their colourful eighties influenced Melodic Hair Rock with grace and it seems like there's a good chemistry between the these guys when listening to this album.
The music unshamelessly resembles all those American acts that made it big during the Whisky A Go-Go golden days. Simple and catchy tunes with instant choruses.
"Dance (With The Devil)" brings the primal Poison spirit back (something they seem to have forgotten) with a straight riff and tons of harmonic layered choruses.
"My Superstar" is one of the best tracks, plenty of 'oh-ohh' vocals cliche but lovable in its effective execution. Really melodic.
Pleasure Addiction sometimes sound more glam on a song like "Saturday Nite" for instance and also go into more melodic territories with the Warrant-like "Melody."
If you like late '80s Dokken and XTZ, "Shout It Out" and the melodious "Couldn't Live Without You" (love the chorus) are for you.
Pleasure Addiction plays pure cliched but lovable (who doesn't like?) '80s American Melodic Hard Rock / Hair Metal.
"InDependence" is plenty of catchy tunes in this style, well composed and full of melodies, vocal harmonies, choruses, guitar pyrotechnics, in short; all the arsenal of the classic bands in this genre.
All the musicians are more than capable players and 'El Butcho' has the pipes and well learned vocal inflections needed to sing Hair Metal, luckily without accent.
A fun, enjoyable retro piece of rock music.
01 - Dance (With The Devil)
02 - My Superstar
03 - Shout It Out
04 - No More Me (No More You)
05 - Couldn't Live Without You
06 - Saturday Nite
07 - Melody
08 - Shot Of Poison
09 - Couldn't Live Without You [Samba Version] (Bonus)
El Butcho (Hellectrokuters): Vocals
Carvin (Aesthesia): Guitar
Bady (Sweet Silence): Guitar
Stuffy (Voodoo Smile): Bass
Pamy (Voodoo Smile): Battery
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UK multi-instrumentalist (but mainly guitar player and singer) STEVE THORNE has released a couple of captivating self managed albums during the last decade, and now has ready his third effort "Crimes & Reasons".
Thorne is an artist that it's hard to categorize because although he may utilise the skills of a number of Prog luminaries on his albums he's not traditionally Prog. Neo-Prog maybe, he’s more a songsmith in the singer/songwriter style who just happens to have Prog leanings.
"Crimes & Reasons" is an immaculately recorded CD which delivers truly quality songs with intelligent thoughtful lyrics, often hard-hitting but occasionally set against tunes that belie the message.
Guest musicians are fewer this time around but unquestionably virtuous; the awesome ex- Spock's Bread Nick D’Virgilio and Bob White provide drums whilst the great Tony Levin (bass), Gary Chandler (guitar) and ex- IQ Martin Orford (flute) plays flute on two tracks (briefly coming out of retirement from music), all make telling contributions.
Musically, Steve's music is mature and melodic, mixing modern prog with melodic rock & pop-rock features. Having as a guide the less complicated & more tuneful aspects of Marillion, Spock’s Beard, Asia, It Bites, Arena and IQ, Steve manages to deliver amazingly beautiful songs.
"Already Dead" bounces along with a pleasing beat and an edgy vocal style, followed by "Bullets & Babies", a song where the melody is contra to the sentiment with the tune being rather pleasant, melodic and extremely catchy while the lyrics to relate to conflicts around the globe. Half way through the tempo increases and the guitars get aggressive before expertly returning to the original theme.
The title track "Crimes & Reasons" has a fabulous melody and a structure that reminds me of Jadis, the unnamed female backing vocalist brings a nice touch to proceedings.
"Everything Under the Sun" laments the lot and loneliness of a widow; it has a hint of recent It Bites about it. A gentle theme matches the mood of the piece and the fretless bass and flute are wonderful accentuations that round out the arrangement beautifully.
"Fadeaway" features a loop to which sounds are added before the song bursts into a good aggressive riff that more than carries the lyrical content about the motives and inadequacy of politicians.
The track segues beautifully into "Moth To Flame", a Marillion-like amazing atmospheric melodious prog rock tune with an excellent guitar work and a great instrumental outro.
"Blue Yonder" is a splendid poppy prog track driven on a nice acoustic guitar refrain with Chandler (Jadis) providing an excellent solo. "Making Plans" has a plaintive piano motif but again the song builds rather nicely and features yet more strong melodies.
"Modern Curse" has a melodic rock heart, an upbeat tune featuring a strong vocal delivery and very acerbic lyrics. The album closes with "Distant Thunder" where It Bites come to mind again with stupendous arrangements, just listen the last part...
"Crimes & Reasons" is a delightful CD that creates delightful warm pictures when you dive into it.
Steve Thorne is a very skilled songwriter, his voice is vibrant and colorful while his playing (he handles all types of instruments) is top notch. The guest musicians, by adding their personal touches to each song, are making the entire result even more enjoyable.
Production is very clear and rich, pristine I would say… excellent by any means.
If you like melodious modern Prog rock music (Neo Prog) with several Melodic Rock & pop-rock passages, well crafted, intelligent and superbly played then “Crimes & Reasons” will surely make your day.
01 - Already Dead
02 - Bullets And Babies
03 - Crimes & Reasons
04 - Everythin Under The Sun
05 - Fadeaway
06 - Moth To Flame
07 - Blue Yonder
08 - Making Plans
09 - Modern Curse
10 - Distant Thunder
Steve Thorne : vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass
Nick D'Virgilio : drums, percussion
Tony Levin : bass, stick
Martin Orford (ex IQ) : flute
Gary Chandler (Jadis) : guitar, backing vocals
Bob White : drums
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All true Westcoast and AOR fans are already aware of State Cows, the Swedish band who brought back the classy sounds of the genre with their debut a couple years ago.
Founder member DANIEL ANDERSSON released his own CD "Days In L.A." shortly before only in Scandinavia and in limited quantities. Now is available worldwide and with the addition of a new track as bonus.
Daniel has studied music in Los Angeles where he met and played with Jason Scheff (Chicago) and Jimmy Haslip (Yellowjackets). Back in Sweden he started to record what would become this CD.
What's very strong about "Days In L.A." is the mix of styles cleverly assembled and superbly played. Andersson takes you on a ride that passes through villages of AOR, Westcoast, Melodic Rock and even a bluesy spice.
If you're scared to be bored with the same riffs, the same production sound, the same arrangements all over – well, it ain't gonna happen here.
The opening track "Glamorous Hollywood" really sets the mood and when the keyboard solo towards the middle of the song starts I find myself already falling in love with the album. This track reminds me a lot of Bill LaBounty and Robbie Dupree.
Then comes "Lift Me Up", which is a Summer smelling melodic rock tune in a Richard Marx meets Venice style. The vocals are clear and pristine backed by strong guitar playing.
On the midtempo "In My Mind" the keyboards take a central role drawing a marvelous melody, while follower "The Dealmaker" is a classic uptempo Westcoast in a Chicago / Toto vein.
I enthusiastically applaud the mix of styles on this CD, all done perfectly, but if you want to listen a track that clearly represents Daniel Andersson and his all-Swede league of magic musicians, then pick "Easy Street Shuffle". This is pure gold, plenty of smooth intrumentation, amazing melodies and terrific arrangements.
The excellence continues with the superb rhythms of the Bill Champlin-like "Keep On Trying", the early Kenny Loggins melodius "Tell Me" and the breezy harmonies in the ballad "Everytime You Come Around".
"I Can't Stand It Any Longer" mixes classy L.A. sounds with pulsating Melodic Rock nuances (another high point on this super CD) delivering a first class guitar parts, while the new track "Cafe Des Arts" goes back thirty years to a classic smooth Westcoast much in the vein of his band State Cows.
Great playing and fantastic songwriting is the simplest and best way to describe this future classic, not only in the AOR / Westcoast genres, but also in the Melodic Rock field.
Daniel Andersson and these Swedish guys (including his partner in State Cows Stefan Olofsson who also plays here) are the future of the genre, they have the class and the skills of the great names from L.A. scene.
As if all that was not enough, the outstanding production in "Days In L.A." was handled by Andersson as well. He's managed to find a full blooded sound from a small budget – it's close to a miracle. You will easily be fooled into believing this is a major label production, that's how good it is.
I dare to say that "Days In L.A." is a Must Have album in your collection, and as said, a future AOR / Westcoast Classic.
A Must Have.
01 - Glamorous Hollywood
02 - Lift Me Up
03 - In My Mind
04 - The Dealmaker
05 - Easy Street Shuffle
06 - Keep On Trying
07 - Tell Me
08 - Everytime You Come Around
09 - I Can't Stand It Any Longer
10 - Cafe Des Arts (Bonus Track)
Daniel Andersson (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
Stefan Olofsson (keyboards, Fender Rhodes)
Fredrik Lundgren (guitar)
Peter Holmqvist (guitar)
Mikael Sandstrom (guitar)
Stefan Forsberg (keyboards)
Mikael Emsing, Paulo Murga (drums)
Paulo Murga, Mikael Emsing (percussion)
Per Wretling, Anders Jonsson (horns)
Olle Nigeus, Peter Nygren (sax)
Christian Thomsen (background vocals)
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Take a sexy hot blonde lead singer (who actually can sing), surround her with big ugly looking guys who just happen to be some of the best heavy music instrumentalists in Australia, throw-in a bunch of supercharged hard rock tunes and you have the beast that is HEAVEN THE AXE, whom have released their debut aptly titled "Sex, Chugs & Rock'N'Roll".
The band features former members of Aussie metal acts The Amenta, Damaged and The Berzerker, so these boys can seriously play hard rock riffs. And at front we have Phoebe Pinnock, who delivers sassy, kick ass vocals injected with rocket fuel, raw and honest in her attack.
Heaven The Axe displays different personalities throughout the album from high-energy hard rock songs to ballads. Phoebe is truly the focus in this band, delivering a wide range and depth vocals with a real in-your-face kind of attitude attached to it.
Opening track "Enemy" sports one ball tearer of a riff with subsequent guitar squeals, driving bass and drums, and front woman Phoebe Pinnock's vocals giving us a good taste of what the disc is all about.
The chugging riffs are meaty and consistent throughout the entire album, as shown later on the dirty stomper "Electric Wire", the razor sharp "So Nirvana" and the breaks in "Glue" where the song pulls back in the bridge, before the ascending bass notes build to an explosive ending.
The acoustic intro to "Unconditional Love" gives the cd a good change up. It's an epic rock song that builds on the back of electric guitar and strong vocals, with the warm bass giving it feeling throughout the peaks and valleys of the journey that the track takes us on.
'Sex Chugs And Rock-N-Roll' is an solid modern hard rock album with a metal edge, and if their live shows share half as much energy as the CD has, they would be an amazing act to see.
Hard Rock enthusiasts who like Baby Animals or Halestorm to name some references are going to dig this album; sharp hard riffs mixed with Phoebe Pinnock's sexy but powerful rock-chick voice.
On the outside this disc could be easily written off as hard rock chick metal, with a semi naked Phoebe on the back cover and guys drinking and gambling, but on closer inspection you realise that the songs have real substance and are cleverly written & arranged with that 'chug chug' effect.
01 - Enemy
02 - Masochist
03 - Electric Wire
04 - So Nirvana
05 - Glue
06 - Get Your Devil To Do It
07 - Unconditional Love
08 - Tails To You (bonus track)
Phoebe Pinnock - Vocals
Mat Silcock - Guitars
Steve Watts - Guitars
Tim Aldridge - Bass
Tom Rossell - Drums
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the Real adv. copy
Formed in 2005, THE LAST VEGAS cut their teeth relentlessly playing in support of two independent releases. In 2009, the band burst on to the national scene when Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx saw them play live in Los Angeles and subsequently co-produced their third album. More touring followed, including a stint opening Motley Crue's 'Saints Of Los Angeles' tour.
Now they're back, recharged, with their brand new CD "Bad Decisions" to hit the stores on August 28, produced by Johnny K (Megadeth, Airbourne).
The Last Vegas plays an explosive cocktail of heavy rock resembling Motley Crue, early Guns 'N Roses, Tesla and AC/DC to name some. There are so many different sounds going on, especially in the vocals, that this CD almost comes across as a greatest hits of the hard rocking '80s.
However these Chicago natives aren't just rehashing two decade old formulas, instead they wear their influences on their sleeves while making the entire mix sound current. This is not modern rock by any means, they sound modern and polished but with their roots in the eighties.
Right from the get go The Last Vegas grab the listener's attention with the unrelenting "Beat To Hell". This venomous in-your-face rocker is one of the best songs on the entire album, but far from the only killer track.
"Other Side" follows suit with a Faster Pussycat meets Skid Row styled vocals while the swagger of title track "Bad Decisions" increases the over-the-top quota by another notch.
Then you have the first single "Evil Eyes", the best track Motley Crue forgot to write in the last twenty years, followed by the melodious but rocking "Don't Take It So Hard".
"She's My Confusion" somehow reminds you Tesla (specially in the refrain), "It Ain't Easy" slow down the things a bit with a bluesy feel, and "My Way Forever" turns into a sweaty sleazy rocker ala G 'N R but more polished.
"Leonida" is modern-day Fastway, "Devil In You" sports a catchy chorus, and "You Are The One" rocks with a strong riff.
For the end we have the ballad "Good Night" which recalls Tesla best moments and in parts brings back to my mind a Cinderella old tune as well.
"Bad Decisions" is more solid and impactful than I expected.
In fact I can't find a bad track on this entire album, as everything is played as if the group realizes this may be their only chance at success, so they hold nothing back.
What resulted was a record that should appeal to new and old hard rock fans alike, and a record that should make these five guys household names. As said, the sound is modern and uptdated but The Last Vegas style is pure late '80s / early '90s.
None of the aforementioned classic bands has shown this type of energy or songwriting skill in ages. This new album by The Last Vegas will no doubt appear of many people's 'best of' lists this year - and deservedly so.
Whatever "Bad Decisions" is one of those CDs that demands to be played at high volumes.
01 - Beat To Hell
02 - Other Side
03 - Bad Decisions
04 - Evil Eyes
05 - Don't Take It So Hard
06 - She's My Confusion
07 - It Ain't Easy
08 - My Way Forever
09 - Leonida
10 - Devil In You
11 - You Are The One
12 - Good Night
Chad Cherry (vocals)
Adam Arling (guitars)
Danny Smash (bass)
Nate Arling (drums)
Johnny Wator (guitars)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Californian Bob Welch, better known for the wistful romanticism of such songs as 'Sentimental Lady' with Fleetwood Mac, shattered any stereotyping by composing all of the hard-rocking tunes performed on the debut album by the short-lived power trio PARIS.
In many aspects the band can be labelled as a mini super-group. Together with Welch was former Jethro Tull bassist Glenn Cornick and drummer Thom Mooney from Nazz (one of the American responses to The Monkees).
Signed to Capitol records and put into the studio with seasoned producer & engineer Jimmy Robinson (Detective), the recording took nearly a year.
Unashamedly reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, the band's style focussed on powerful, crunchy riffs, laced with a funky undertow.
But it wasn't all about the music as Bob Welch's bizarre, some might say, spooky lyrics provided yet another murky depth to the package. With references to both religion and metaphysical inspiration, the songs make for curious listening.
Check out "Black Book", "Beautiful Youth", "Rock Of Ages" and album centre piece "Narrow Gate (La Porte Etroite)" for some of the best examples of mid seventies hard rock crafted in the Zepp style, but also in the style of a rising UK band; Thin Lizzy.
This is a rare piece rescued from the vaults by Rock Candy, remastered and with enhanced artwork.
The music on this album is unlike anything Bob Welch did with Fleetwood Mac or his later solo works. Paris delivered a kind of pretty raw hard rock with the typical trio fuel, and although not all the tracks hit the mark, it's a clear testimony of these crazy years when rock was much more than a prefabricated product.
01 - Black Book
02 - Religion
03 - Starcage
04 - Beautiful Youth
05 - Nazarene
06 - Narrow Gate (La Porte Etroite)
07 - Solitare
08 - Breathless
09 - Rock Of Ages
10 - Red Rain
Robert Welch (Fleetwood Mac) - Guitar, Vocals
Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull) - Bass, Keyboards
Thom Mooney (Nazz) - Drums
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JIMMIE VAN ZANT is the younger of the Van Zant family who has been touring the U.S. for years spreading the music that made this dynasty into the American legends they are today.
"Feels Like Freedom" is his fourth album and surely the best in Jimmie's discography
At the beginning of his career in the late nineties, Jimmie was accused for make a living as musician usufructing his famous surname, but the truth is the man has talent.
Although Jimmie's white-hot vocals pay homage to the incredible music legacy paved by his cousins Ronnie (Lynyrd Skynyrd), Johnny (.38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Van Zant), and Donnie (.38 Special, Van Zant), he has opted to a more organinc style in his music since his early days.
Yes, musically it is influenced by classic Southern rock, but he adds to the mix some Americana, country rock and even FM Rock. The difference with his cousins bands lies as well in the sonic treatment of his songs, more melodic and crisp, all clocking in a strict three / four minute.
For "Feels Like Freedom" Van Zant has surrounded himself with the cream of Nashville session players and songwriters. It's a symbiotic and really well rounded combination where the singer stays true to his roots but enriched by new sounds.
Perhaps Van Zant's biggest strength lies in his storytelling.
When addressing wanderlust and leaving the past in "Chasing Shadows" he puts himself in the first person. And the manner in which he shifts from tales of outlaw rockers to depictions of an alcohol-ravaged marriage shows empathic range.
The song sequence has been cleverly chosen. Full-throttle rockers are interspersed with ballads and mid-tempo tunes with taste.
All are good and enjoyable, but title track "Feels Like Freedom" is a winner, an anthemic rocker full of energy and class playing.
"Feels Like Freedom" is a really nice album of pure American rock.
It's very well composed and crisply produced with superb musicians at service of the music, while Jimmie's strong performances infuses each song with heavy emotional weight. And like some skilled method actor, he makes each word spring off the page.
01 - Chasing Shadows
02 - Ain't Quite Mary Jane
03 - Wildest Branch
04 - When You Gonna Learn
05 - Feels Like Freedom
06 - That'll Take You Back
07 - Southern Rock
08 - Unfinished Life
09 - Runaway Train
10 - Come On Man
11 - Stronger Stuff
Jimmie Van Zant (vocals)
Rob McNelly (electric guitar)
Dave Daniels Camarda (electric guitar)
Kent Wells (electric guitar)
Steve Hinson (electric guitar, steel guitar, background vocals)
Kent Wells (acoustic guitar, programming)
Gary Smith (keyboards)
Mike Brignardello (bass)
Nick Buda (drums, percussion)
Christine Winslow (background vocals)
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"Classics" is a 2012 European release from rock legends FOREIGNER, a selection of their hits re-recorded with the new incarnation of the band, including vocalist Kelly Hansen (who joined in 2005), ex- Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson, multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel, keyboar player Michael Bluestein and drummer Mark Schulman.
These new versions never where released in Europe, and many of them only were available into special packages in America.
While there may be some who prefer remastered versions of the originals, the band in its latest incarnation is no second rate copy. These new takes don't replace the immortal '80s cuts, they just gives you Foreigner updated.
Digitally recorded and produced mastermind Mick Jones, from "Urgent", "Head Games" or "Hot Blooded" to the mega-hit ballad "I Want to Know What Love Is", the band delivers the goods and sounds energetic.
The set also includes the new song "Save Me" which was co-written with Mick Jones' step-daughter and well known DJ & musician, Samantha Ronson.
01 - Feels Like The First Time
02 - Urgent
03 - Can't Slow Down
04 - Cold As Ice
05 - I Want To Know What Love is
06 - Double Vision
07 - Head Games
08 - Hot Blooded
09 - In Pieces
10 - Waiting For A Girl Like You
11 - Long, Long Way From Home
12 - Save Me (new track)
13 - Dirty White Boy
14 - When It Comes To Love
15 - Juke Box Hero
16 - The Flame Still Burns
Mick Jones: Guitars, Vocals
Kelly Hansen: Lead Vocals
Jeff Pilson: Bass, Vocals
Tom Gimbel: Guitar, Keyboards, Sax
Michael Bluestein: Keyboards
Mark Schulman: Drums, Percussion
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Monday, August 20, 2012
Norwegian BENTE SMAAVIK has been singing since her teens when debuted as vocalist if the punk band Per Kleppe & Skattesnylterne in 1978.
The lady has recorded and toured with countless European bands, but maybe Bente's better known international project was being one of the dual lead vocalists for '80s act Blonde On Blonde.
In "1979-2011" she looks back to her long and eventful career that is far from over.
"1979-2011" is like a showcase CD covering her contributions as vocalist from the last 25 years, even including own original material from her 2004's 3-track EP.
After her punky start, Bente joined dancing rock band Four Jets, and during the '80s she turned into melodic hard rock bands such as Road, Blonde On Blonde, later Perfect Crime, and more recently The Jan Holberg Project with Joe Lynn Turner.
All that stuff is presented here, and while every track has its uniqueness, melodic hard rock is the common denominator. It also applies when Smaavik acts as a solo artist and as a guest singer for others, eg. Jimmy Iversen, a musician who appears in several of the bands she has sung in.
The album is set up in the order where her newly recordings comes first and the oldest last. Having started with her '78 demos with a punk band would have given a totally wrong type of impression for those who are not familiar with Smaavik career.
So we start with a contribution in a track for Jimmy Iversen's last year album, the bluesy midtempo "Walk With Me" which shows Smaavik clear and melodious pipes.
The AORish melodic rocker "Vision Of Lust" is one of the best tracks here, Bente's duet with Joe Lynn Turner from the great Jan Holberg Project 'Sense Of Time' album.
Then we have "Hard To Say Goodbye", a great cover of Stage Dolls for their Scandinavian tribute album, the really nice melodic anthem "Vinterfolket" which was the official song to the 2008 Ski Championships held in Norway, and the piano piece "I Natt" recorded with the band Hammers Harem.
From Bente's own EP, "Leaves In The Wind" is the only track featured here, a vocal dominated strong rock&pop tune performed with energy.
"Hot Stuff" is a cover made with Blonde On Blonde of Donna Summer's classic, while "Orn-Sangen (Eagle Song)" is the anthem for the Trondheim Eagles football club. Cool tracks.
"Stripped To The Bone" and "Am I Right" are winners. Both are taken from Perfect Crime's album Blonde To Blonde, classic sounding female fronted Melodic Hard Rock songs plenty of hooks and fine choruses.
Followers "Love Me Or Leave Me" and "Sail Away" are also strong tunes recorded with Blonde On Blonde, the former a great rocker in the FM nineties style, the latter more melodic rock oriented with a marching rhythm.
"Normal Life" is taken from his contribution to the 1986 album with the band Road, an obscure recording much sought after by collectors.
The remaining stuff is the less interesting; the poppy "Good Trip To Paris" with Four Jets, and two poor sounding tracks from her origins with Per Kleppe & Skattesnylterne.
"1979-2011" is like a presentation card from Bente Smaavik, a really good female singer owner of a colorful and potent register.
For Melodic Hard Rock listeners this is a more than recommended CD, because as said, most of the material featured here waters this style, and with very good songs.
Hope Bente Smaavik have the chance in the future for a full length album on her own. She is truly professional and capable.
01 - Walk With Me
02 - Vision Of Lust
03 - Hard To Say Goodbye
04 - Vinterfolket
05 - I Natt
06 - Leaves In The Wind
07 - Hot Stuff
08 - Ørn-Sangen
09 - Stripped To The Bone
10 - Am I Right
11 - Love Me Or Leave Me
12 - Sail Wway
13 - Normal Life
14 - God Tur Til Paris
15 - Per Kleppe Og Skattesnytera
16 - Benny Bankboks
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Saturday, August 18, 2012
THE ROCKFORD HEROES was founded in Sweden during autumn 2010 by Jonas Arvidsson (guitar) and Dan Hultstrand (vocals).
Jonas, previous guitarist in the metal act VII Gates, wanted to do something more complete and comprehensive to his musical influences, and found that the so far unknown talented Dan wanted the same thing.
After a few demo recordings to show the music, drummer Marcus Johansson and bass player Pekka Kiviaho were recruited as well, thus formed a complete line-up.
The Rockford Heroes raised some eyebrows with their impressive indie EP "Light Scares" earlier this year, and now are back with another one in the form of "The White EP". Both EP's combine their love for classic '70s pomp AOR / Melodic Rock, '80s Hard Rock & modern day sounds.
The music features plenty of crunchy riffs and classy keyboard textures, with a wide spectrum of influnces ranging from Styx, Rainbow, Skid Row, Edguy, Queen, Pretty Maids, Tobruk and many more. The band is kind of all over the map but it works.
The first EP "Light Scares" is more seventies / eighties oriented, sometimes pompy but not with that edgy modern AOR sound that we hear from so many bands today, it is a bit rougher around the edges and less layered.
I can hear strong Styx influences here, the melody of earlier REO Speedwagon but also the first Def Leppard, Tobruk and Bronz.
Lead singer Dan Hultstrand has a really good voice soinding in places a bit like Tommy Shaw first-era Styx, but without the lisp that Tommy has. I love the way the guitars and keyboards are thrown in the mix, creating a very nice atmosphere.
"Streets Of Gold" reminds you '79 Styx with its lovable chorus, the melodic rock lines of "Embrace The Moonlight" brings back Bronz and Tobruk, while "Keep Away From The Sun" will recall to you the first Europe, Whitesnake and Zepp.
"Love Lies Bleeding" akins more '80s Styx sounds, while "Devil's Eye" has a different production (obviously from a different recording session) featuring some synths in a German or Scandi style.
I found myself listening again and again to the songs included in this EP and some special attribute to remark is that the production and output sound does not resemble at all to the plastic-pressed recordings done massively lately.
The 4-track "White EP" it is musically slightly different, a bit more heavier which is well illustrated in the very good opening track "Gold Encircles The Altar". It is still very melodic though and the music still feels rooted in the melodic hard rock style but with a more modern approach.
The vocals are also more powerful, hard rocking, with Hultstrand singing in a first Skid Row Sebastian Bach-like style. The keyboards play a Rainbow or even Foreigner role keeping the connection with the '80s intact.
Guitars feel harder than the previous EP as it is obvious in the riff driven and fast rocker "Capricious Arrows" that could easily hide some NWOBHM influences following the characteristic bridge-chorus addictive structure.
I love the way the keyboards throw Uriah Heep on the influences table while opening the door for some almost AOR grooves during "A Split Second Goodbye".
"The Fools Realm" closes the EP kicking-in as a power ballad (I can spot the Coverdale singing references here) and then explodes into a great Euro Hard ala Pretty Maids or Praying Mantis tune based once again into British virtues via the driving main melody and the mood lifting tempo. A terrific track.
The Rockford Heroes must be Sweden's best kept secret, but I'm sure we will hear great things about them in a near future.
The songs are extremely well-crafted with driving grooves and awesome melodies that will stick to mind from the very beginning. They go from pompy classic sounding melodic tunes to epic styled arrangements and layers of vocals, plus some surprising hooks.
Honestly, each tune here has its own charm, providing some really hard rocking moments but also with enough sophistication and melodies to also appeal the Melodic Rock, AOR and even the progressive crowd.
Now if only these guys can put together a strong full length and get a label to back them the world will then get a hefty dose of what they are all about.
01 - Gold Encircles The Altar
02 - Capricious Arrows
03 - A Split Second Goodbye
04 - The Fools Realm
05 - Streets Of Gold
06 - Embrace The Moonlight
07 - Keep Away From The Sun
08 - Love Lies Bleeding
09 - Devil's Eye
Jonas Arvidsson – Guitars
Dan Hultstrand – Vocals
Marcus Johansson – Drums
Andreas Lundgren – Bass
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Nigel Dupree is the son of Jesse James Dupree of Jackyl fame, but the guy has his own career, and with his rocing band is releasing his second album "Up To No Good".
Like his pops, Nigel has a true love for loud, greasy, grimy, dirty barroom brawl rock and roll. You could say that this rocker didn't fall far from the tree.
But unlike his dad, however, Nigel did not grow up playing chainsaws, instead, he grabbed a Les Paul guitar. Nigel seemingly listened to Tesla growing up and that is worn on his sleeve proudly. He is a good guitarist who can write an infectious hook and play American hard / classic rock with style.
The album starts out with the moving rocker "Attitude", a three chord hard rocking tune with a great riff and solo. The track is the description for this record; quintessential hard rock, instant and enjoyable.
First single "Tumbleweed" is a low slung grinding affair showing off his southern roots and a nasty track to down that next drink to. "Say Watcha Say" and "Trouble" continue the fire as well as one of the best tracks on the album: "Control".
As hard as this record burns, it does have a sentimental side with the slow grooves that are "The Chooser" and "Hold On" but still showing serious power underneath.
Nigel Dupree has come out swinging with a solid rock record to be cranked up while cruising down the highway or while at a backyard BBQ.
Nigel is not reinventing the wheel on "Up To No Good ". Instead, he has the look of a young Ted Nugent and a sound that mixes all of the bands that influenced his daddy and the more commercial side of American hard / classic rock, resulting in a sort of an '80s rock for the new millennium' sound.
A very well-rounded album that has something for every rock fan.
01 - Attitude
02 - Tumbleweed
03 - Control
04 - The Chooser
05 - Hold On
06 - Push
07 - Sad Situation
08 - Trouble
09 - Blame
10 - Say Whatcha Say
11 - Blur
Nigel Dupree : Vocals, Guitar
David Buchanan : Guitar
Alex Foretich : Bass
Sebastian Anderson : Drums
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Friday, August 17, 2012
HUMANIMAL was formed at begininnig of the new millenium by Sweden's six-string virtuoso Pontus Norgren (Great King Rat, Talisman, The Poodles) together with his ex- bandmate in Talisman Marcel Jacob and drummer Thomas Broman (John Norum, Brazen Abbot, Glenn Hughes Band).
For the vocalist position they called no other than Jeff Scott Soto, who agreed to once again join Pontus and Marcel, who as a trio made up three quarters of the much appreciated Talisman.
Coincidences do not end there, as the band's name was taken from one of Talisman's albums, even more, they decided to name their 2002's debut "Humanimal" as well.
"R U 4 Real" is the opening track and the best way to introduce Humanimal's style: fast guitars, soaring vocals and great rhythm.
"Again 2 B Found" follows with a killer chorus, screaming riffs and an amazingly strong bass playing that makes your heart beat the same way. One of the best tracks on an album plenty of them.
The Hard Rock hurricane continues with "License 2 Kill" with vocals moving on various harmony trails, great energy and a juicy guitar solo filled with such emotion that Mr. Malmsteen would have really been jealous of.
"Find My Way Home" moves in slower paths (just slower, not slow) than the previous songs, where the rhythm section specially shine. With "Feel The Burn" the band rocks hard once again.
In "Road 2 4giveness" Jeff Scott Soto shows all his greatness, followed by the melodic "I" which delivers rich guitar passages.
With "Turn Away" the band explores some heavy funk rhythms, a territory already visited by Talisman in the past. "Who Do U Think U R" sports a catchy chorus, clever lyrics and a sensual beat. The album ends with "Way 2 Deep" in a pure Scandi Melodic Hard Rock fashion.
Out of print for many years, "Humanimal" is now being reissued; remastered, repackaged and with the excellent bonus track "Love's The Dominion" added.
This album is terrific from start to finish, no fillers, just killers. Trust me.
100% Swedish Melodic Hard Rock of the first degree.
Get it pronto: Limited Edition.
01. R U 4 Real
02. Again 2B Found
03. Licence 2 Kill
04. Find My Way Home
05. Feel The Burn
06. Road 2 4giveness
08. Turn Away
09. Who Do U Think U R
10. Way 2 Deep
11. Loves Dominion (Bonus Track)
Jeff Scott Soto - Lead & Backing Vocals
Pontus Norgren - Guitars
Marcel Jacob - Bass, Backing Vocals
Tomas Broman - Drums & Percussion
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Thursday, August 16, 2012
DISTRICT 97 debuted in 2010 with an album which received more clamour for the fact that the band's singer Leslie Hunt had competed as a finalist in 2007's American Idol, than the excellent music it contained.
However in the cold light of day it wasn't merely Hunt's voice, or the prog-idol crossover shock that made the album stand out, the clash of traditional prog and a modern approach ensured that the music itself made the CD a worthy contender for time on any prog lovers playlist.
So two years later and District 97 are back with their second album "Trouble With Machines".
While not much has changed, neither has much stood still, with Hunt still leading much of the music from the front, but only because what she is backed by is pretty damn impressive in the first place.
As many prog albums do, "Trouble With Machines" splits into two types of songs. The long, meandering, jarring mini-epics and the shorter blasts of melody that offer light relief for those fatigued by off-kilter time signatures, vocal melodies that intentionally work against the keyboards / guitar lines and long drawn out arrangements.
The effect is one where the album feels challenging and technical, while simultaneously being quite immediate and memorable, catchy even.
Although when you revisit it, somehow the commercial sheen you imagined remembering isn't quite there, with more of the bristling riffs, keen piano forays and pounding drum adventures revealing themselves to be not as simple and straight forward as first thought.
Every spin reveals more, with "The Perfect Young Man" howling through a guitar and Hammond battle that results in a bloodied tie, before the nuancing hi-hat patterns and vocal harmonies between Hunt and guitarist Jim Tashjian come along to trounce all that have come before them.
Talking of Tashjian, he really is a mighty talent, but then so is Rob Clearfield, who provides keyboards as well as the odd touch of six string magic.
From the shorter tracks, "Open Your Eyes" lets the vocals really stretch out in a more accessible way, but the ever on the move percussion from Jonathan Schang stops the bouncy riff from becoming just too straight ahead. Although stinging burst of harmony guitar, which are almost laughingly bright and jolly also knocks you out of any comfort zone you'd attempted to settle in.
Then bassist Patrick Mulcahy brings the bottom end rumble to the District, with his forceful attack on the funky and moving romp of "Who Cares?", illustrating his importance to the band to the full.
Much though these shorter blasts are convincingly good fun, it really is where things become more extrovertly introverted that District 97 really make their mark, with the unsettling vocals of "Read Your Mind" leading you into a dreamy, yet threatening setting, before the ever evolving and often spacey "The Thief" brings a subtlety to the album that is only really hinted at elsewhere.
"Trouble With Machines" is a mature and really interesting album from District 97's, a band planted in the Prog field but never afraid to explore new territories. It is no surprise that the band has earned praise from some big names in the Prog world such as John Wetton (who also guest vocals), Bill Bruford and Carl Palmer.
However, it is actually quite difficult to place this band into any particular sub-genre, as it presents a unique blending of styles with some Neo Prog, Melodic Hard Rock, Symphonic impressions, and even some Prog Metal style guitar riffs.
District 97 music is playful, clever, exploratory, enigmatic, and a whole lot of fun. The compositions are wonderfully well thought out and present many twists and turns, good grooves, complex rhythms but also easy melodies, and some excellent musicianship.
Far from being a flash in the pan prog band with a media back story, "Trouble With Machines" proves that District 97 are in it for the long haul.
On the evidence of this album, they'll have a lot of people interested in their journey. I am one of them.
1. Back And Forth
2. Open Your Eyes
3. The Actual Color
4. The Perfect Young Man
5. Who Cares?
6. Read Your Mind
7. The Thief
Leslie Hunt / lead & backing vocals
Rob Clearfield / keyboards, guitar
Jim Tashjian / guitar, backing vocals
Patrick Mulcahy / bass
Jonathan Schang / drums, percussion
John Wetton / vocals (4)
Katinka Kleijn / cello (6)
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